According to her sister Vivian Dandridge, Dottie thought the world of Harry Belafonte. She often confided her romantic fantasies about him, and thought it would be wonderful if they married. Dottie’s manager, Earl Mills, said that an on-again, off-again romantic relationship between the two initially began during the filming of Bright Road, and went on for several years. Mr. Belafonte had never confirmed this. He’s simply said “if I wanted to be her leading man in private, I would have been her leading man in private.”
I often wondered what Janet would be like as Dorothy Dandridge on film. She did originally want to play the late actress but at the time, Hollywood wasn’t putting money into black actresses or film (still aren’t). Janet used to write Dorothy’s manager Earl Mills as a child.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. Almost the whole time we’d been on this boat, one of the many in our fleet, my eyes seemed to drift over on their own. Studying the two lovers as they bobbed against the waves. I watched as Ellisif, oh you poor woman, tucked under her new husbands arm, keeping her warm under his cloak and out of the billowing cold. I could see him kiss the top of her head as we crashed through the water.
Our King would not like what he saw, that was certain. I had run over a of different scenarios and outcomes of how this would play out. With either one of them dead, Gods, maybe he’d kill me too!
King Harald was the one who had left me in charge of our men, getting them ready and prepared to join The Great Heathen Army. I had let this happen on my watch and that alone led me to believe King Harald might actually kill me..
During the month of September 1955, Dorothy Dandridge found herself in court as her two agents, Earl Mills and Bernice Black, fought a court battle with the prize being 10% of Dottie’s earnings. Bernice Black, who had been obtaining some jobs for the beautiful star, sued Earl Mills for $1200. Bernice said this was owed to her through a verbal agreement she made with Earl. Dorothy was said to not give much concern to the financial end of her lucrative career, leaving to up to Earl. However, she was subpoenaed as a witness in the lawsuit. Dottie wanted nothing to do with legal squabble. When the reporters crowded around her with questions, she said: “It’s all just silly.”She threw her pink scarf around her shoulder, and ducked into the ladies room. While the media waited for her to come out, Dottie quietly slipped out of the side door that led to a parking lot. In the end, Ms. Bernice Black won a settlement of $500, and the court denied the counter suit filed by Earl Mills.
“America was not geared to make me into a Liz Taylor, a Monroe, a Gardner.”
“When I think of Dorothy, I only think of the happy times. The gay times. When she re-enacted the character Julie from “Showboat” in the living room of friends. When she sang at a musicale. Her opening nights. The games on the beach in South America. The shopping excursions in Europe. Her awe the first time in New York… These are the things I think of. — Earl Mills
A chapter out of the book The Romance of Publishing: An Agent Recalls Thirty-Three Years with Authors and Editors by Alex Jackinson (yes Jackinson) is dedicated to Dorothy Dandridge and the struggle to bring her story to the screen. I’ve always wanted to know what happened with The Dorothy Dandridge Story starring Jayne Kennedy that was suppose to premiere on Christmas Day 1981. This chapter answers that question. Also discussed is how singer/actress Freda Payne announced on national television that she would be the one starring in the movie about Dottie’s life. Lola Falana also expressed interest. If you have time, this is an interesting read.